What is the European Federation of Psychology Students’ Associations?

Introduction

The European Federation of Psychology Students’ Associations (EFPSA) is a not-for-profit, non-governmental student organisation that consists of psychology student associations from across Europe. EFPSA currently consists of 33 Member Organisations and two Observer Organisations, each represented by a Member Representative, who collectively form the legislative body of the Federation.

The work of the Federation is perpetuated through the work of the Member Representatives (MRs), the Executive Board (EB) and the Board of Management (BM). EFPSA provides psychology students with diverse opportunities for scientific- and self-development through its Events and Services. Additionally, EFPSA also aims to contribute to a positive impact in society through a variety of campaigns while representing the interest and needs of psychology students on a European level.

Brief History

EFPSA was founded in April 1987 at the University of Lisbon, Portugal where European psychology students from all over Europe had been invited to a meeting. Psychology students from eight European countries formed the European Federation of Psychology Students’ Associations (EFPSA).

The basic outlines of this Federation were transformed into formal statutes during the second meeting in Liege, Belgium in April 1988. At the same time, EFPSA initiated its first project, the EUROPSYCHO-Database on education and exchange. In January 1989, EFPSA was registered as an international association according to the Belgian law.

During the third General Assembly in April 1989 in Lund, Sweden, the Federation developed its initial structure with the first meeting of the Executive Board (EB) being held for the first time in that same year. In July 1991, EFPSA started a collaboration with the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, after which EFPSA became an official affiliate member of EFPA in 2001.

After EFPSA’s participation in the first European Student Conference (which brought together about 500 students from a number of disciplines) in Liege (Belgium) in November 1990, a lot of new contacts were made, especially with Eastern European countries. During the fifth General Assembly in April 1991 in Geneva (Switzerland) EFPSA grew to 11 member countries, and the first delegation from Eastern Europe was welcomed. In this year the idea of permanent working groups (called “task forces”) came into being to enable more efficient work on projects such as EUROPSYCHO, ERASMUS, etc. Over the years leading up to new millennium, more Events in the form of Summer Schools and seminars and, of course, the Congress were organised under the guidance of EFPSA. In 2006, EFPSA developed its Corporate Visual Identity and became recognised with its representative logo and orange colour.

Structure

The structure of EFPSA was developed at the third General Assembly in April 1989 in Lund (Sweden). At this time, members of the Executive Board also covered the functions that Member Representatives do now. There were no Board of Management positions, only a President. Since then, EFPSA has grown in size and had to implement some significant structural changes, creating a new form of Executive Board. In 2003, the concept of National Representatives (nowadays known as Member Representatives) was introduced. These formed the new decision-making body from each of the associations which were members of EFPSA. Furthermore, the Board of Management as a separate body within the Executive Board was formed due to the need for leadership on strategic decisions, as well as monitoring the efficiency of the whole organisation.

Events

EFPSA currently organises eleven annual and one biennial event:

  • The Congress;
  • European Summer School (ESS);
  • EFPSA Academy;
  • Train the Trainers (TtT) Summer School;
  • Train Advanced Trainers (TAT);
  • Trainers’ Meeting (TRAM);
  • Trainers’ Conference (TRaC);
  • EFPSA Day; and
  • The Joint Executive Board & Member Representatives Meeting and Board of Management Meetings are the annual events, while the Conference is the biennial event.

European Summer School

The first European Summer School (ESS) took place in Leie, Estonia in 2007. with the topic ‘Cross-Cultural Psychology’ followed by European Summer Schools covering different topics each subsequent year. During this seven-day event students immerse themselves into a programme of intercultural research where they have the opportunity to join one of six research projects led by a PhD supervisor in planning and implementing a 12-month study. Apart from this, the programme is enriched by a variety of lectures given by professionals from relevant areas of psychology. Each year, all lectures and research are set against a theme, chosen to reflect a field of contemporary psychology. Since 2011, all ESS participants completing the training programme and committing to the research project have been invited to join the Junior Researcher Programme, extending the European Summer School from a one-week Event into a fully structured 12-month research programme.

EFPSA Day

EFPSA Day is a promotional event that takes place across Europe at the beginning of December. The first EFPSA Day was held in 2010. The aim of this one-day event is to spread the word about EFPSA all over Europe. Presentations, workshops and other activities connected with EFPSA take place in many universities on the same day in order to make as many students as possible familiar with EFPSA.

Train the Trainers

In 2010, the first Train the Trainers summer school took place in Austria.[9] The Train the Trainers (TtT) summer school is an annual seven-day event featuring experiential and non-formal education aimed at providing its participants with insights and tutoring on a broad set of skills and knowledge about delivering training and information. Upon completion of set requirements, the TtT graduates may be invited to join the EFPSA Trainers’ Pool – a supportive environment for furthering training skills and experiences.

EFPSA Conference

The EFPSA Conference first took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 2013. The EFPSA Conference is a biennial event and places a particular emphasis on its scientific programme. It brings together around 150 students from all over Europe for four days of lectures, workshops and student presentations. During the Conference, there is an open day, which consists of approximately 30 students from the hosting country/region joining the Conference for one day, to get an opportunity to learn, partake in the lectures and network with the participants.

Journal of European Psychology Students

The Journal of European Psychology Students (JEPS) is a double-blind peer-reviewed open access academic journal run entirely by students, covering all aspects of psychology published by the EFPSA and Ubiquity Press since 2009. JEPS brings a legitimate opportunity for psychology students to consider their thesis or research with international scope. Submissions have to be based on research conducted by bachelor or master students who may also be from outside Europe. Authors of selected submissions will receive professional feedback and help in developing their scientific publication. Articles are selected based on quality of research alone, disregarding the perceived importance and originality of a particular paper. Articles are indexed in EBSCOHost. Since 2016, JEPS invites students to submit Registered Reports. The JEPS team also run a blog, the JEPS Bulletin, which has been publishing since November 2010 on a range of issues relevant to psychology students of all levels and varied fields of interest.

Member Organisations

Organisations from all countries recognised by the Council of Europe can become members of EFPSA. Organisations from countries/regions that are not recognised by the Council of Europe can be taken into consideration as Regional Members. As of April 2018, EFPSA has 33 Member Organisations and two Observer Organisations.

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What is the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations?

Introduction

The European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations is the umbrella organisation of national societies in the field of psychology that are located in the European Economic Area.

Refer to the European Federation of Psychology Students’ Associations (EFPSA).

Brief History

The federation was founded in 1981 and the first general assembly was held in Heidelberg. Since then, general assemblies have been held every two years in different European cities. Since 1995, the general assembly is held in conjunction with the biennial European Congress of Psychology.

Aims

The federation is concerned with promoting and improving psychology as a profession and as a discipline, particularly, though not exclusively, in applied settings and with emphasis on the training and research associated with such practice. Its official journal is the European Psychologist. In 2009, the federation launched the EuroPsy register.

Member Associations

As of July 2019 the federation has 39 member associations, which together represent over 350,000 psychologists from all 28 members states of the European Union. In addition, there are 11 organisations registered as associate member associations and 2 that are registered as affiliate member associations.

EuroPsy

One of the major initiatives of the federation was the establishment of the EuroPsy or European Certificate in Psychology. This qualification sets a common standard for education, professional training and competence for psychologists to practice independently across Europe.

Aristotle Prize

The Aristotle Prize, established in 1995, is awarded by EFPA to a psychologist from Europe who has made a distinguished contribution to psychology.

Recipients of the prize have been:

  • 1995: Pieter Drenth.
  • 1997: Paul Baltes.
  • 1999: David Magnusson.
  • 2001: Alan Baddeley.
  • 2003: Lea Pulkkinen.
  • 2005: Rocio Fernandez-Ballesteros.
  • 2007: William Yule.
  • 2009: Claus Bundesen.
  • 2011: H. Marinus Van Ijzendoorn.
  • 2013: Niels Birbaumer.
  • 2015: José Maria Peiro.
  • 2017: CON AMORE – Centre on Autobiographical Memory Research.
  • 2019: Naomi Ellemers.

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What is Enmeshment?

Introduction

Enmeshment is a concept in psychology and psychotherapy introduced by Salvador Minuchin (1921-2017) to describe families where personal boundaries are diffused, sub-systems undifferentiated, and over-concern for others leads to a loss of autonomous development.

Background

Enmeshed in parental needs, trapped in a discrepant role function, a child may lose their capacity for self-direction; their own distinctiveness, under the weight of “psychic incest”; and, if family pressures increase, may end up becoming the identified patient or family scapegoat.

Enmeshment was also used by John Bradshaw to describe a state of cross-generational bonding within a family, whereby a child (normally of the opposite sex) becomes a surrogate spouse for their mother or father.

The term is sometimes applied to engulfing co-dependent relationships, where an unhealthy symbiosis is in existence.

For the toxically enmeshed child, the adult’s carried feelings may be the only ones they know, outweighing and eclipsing their own.

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What is Dissociation (Psychology)?

Introduction

Dissociation, as a concept that has been developed over time, is any of a wide array of experiences, ranging from a mild emotional detachment from the immediate surroundings, to a more severe disconnection from physical and emotional experiences. The major characteristic of all dissociative phenomena involves a detachment from reality, rather than a loss of reality as in psychosis.

The phenomena are diagnosable under the DSM-5 as a group of disorders as well as a symptom of other disorders through various diagnostic tools. Its cause is believed to be related to neurobiological mechanisms, trauma, anxiety, and psychoactive drugs. Research has further related it to suggestibility and hypnosis, and it is inversely related to mindfulness, which is a potential treatment.

Brief History

French philosopher and psychologist Pierre Janet (1859-1947) is considered to be the author of the concept of dissociation. Contrary to some conceptions of dissociation, Janet did not believe that dissociation was a psychological defence.

Psychological defence mechanisms belong to Sigmund Freud‘s theory of psychoanalysis, not to Janetian psychology. Janet claimed that dissociation occurred only in persons who had a constitutional weakness of mental functioning that led to hysteria when they were stressed. Although it is true that many of Janet’s case histories described traumatic experiences, he never considered dissociation to be a defence against those experiences. Quite the opposite: Janet insisted that dissociation was a mental or cognitive deficit. Accordingly, he considered trauma to be one of many stressors that could worsen the already-impaired “mental deficiency” of a hysteric, thereby generating a cascade of hysterical (in today’s language, “dissociative”) symptoms.

Although there was great interest in dissociation during the last two decades of the nineteenth century (especially in France and England), this interest rapidly waned with the coming of the new century. Even Janet largely turned his attention to other matters.

There was a sharp peak in interest in dissociation in America from 1890 to 1910, especially in Boston as reflected in the work of William James, Boris Sidis, Morton Prince, and William McDougall. Nevertheless, even in America, interest in dissociation rapidly succumbed to the surging academic interest in psychoanalysis and behaviourism.

For most of the twentieth century, there was little interest in dissociation. Despite this, a review of 76 previously published cases from the 1790s to 1942 was published in 1944, describing clinical phenomena consistent with that seen by Janet and by therapists today. In 1971, Bowers and her colleagues presented a detailed, and still quite valid, treatment article. The authors of this article included leading thinkers of their time – John G. Watkins (who developed ego-state therapy) and Zygmunt A. Piotrowski (famed for his work on the Rorschach test). Further interest in dissociation was evoked when Ernest Hilgard (1977) published his neodissociation theory in the 1970s. During the 1970s and 1980s an increasing number of clinicians and researchers wrote about dissociation, particularly multiple personality disorder.

Carl Jung described pathological manifestations of dissociation as special or extreme cases of the normal operation of the psyche. This structural dissociation, opposing tension, and hierarchy of basic attitudes and functions in normal individual consciousness is the basis of Jung’s Psychological Types. He theorised that dissociation is a natural necessity for consciousness to operate in one faculty unhampered by the demands of its opposite.

Attention to dissociation as a clinical feature has been growing in recent years as knowledge of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increased, due to interest in dissociative identity disorder (DID), and as neuroimaging research and population studies show its relevance.

Historically the psychopathological concept of dissociation has also another different root: the conceptualization of Eugen Bleuler that looks into dissociation related to schizophrenia.

Diagnosis

Refer to Dissociative disorder.

Dissociation is commonly displayed on a continuum. In mild cases, dissociation can be regarded as a coping mechanism or defence mechanism in seeking to master, minimise or tolerate stress – including boredom or conflict. At the non-pathological end of the continuum, dissociation describes common events such as daydreaming. Further along the continuum are non-pathological altered states of consciousness.

More pathological dissociation involves dissociative disorders, including dissociative fugue and depersonalisation disorder with or without alterations in personal identity or sense of self. These alterations can include: a sense that self or the world is unreal (depersonalisation and derealisation), a loss of memory (amnesia), forgetting identity or assuming a new self (fugue), and separate streams of consciousness, identity and self (dissociative identity disorder, formerly termed multiple personality disorder) and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). Although some dissociative disruptions involve amnesia, other dissociative events do not. Dissociative disorders are typically experienced as startling, autonomous intrusions into the person’s usual ways of responding or functioning. Due to their unexpected and largely inexplicable nature, they tend to be quite unsettling.

Dissociative disorders are sometimes triggered by trauma, but may be preceded only by stress, psychoactive substances, or no identifiable trigger at all. The ICD-10 classifies conversion disorder as a dissociative disorder. The DSM groups all dissociative disorders into a single category and recognises dissociation as a symptom of acute stress disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder.

Misdiagnosis is common among people who display symptoms of dissociative disorders, with an average of seven years to receive proper diagnosis and treatment. Research is ongoing into aetiologies, symptomology, and valid and reliable diagnostic tools. In the general population, dissociative experiences that are not clinically significant are highly prevalent with 60% to 65% of the respondents indicating that they have had some dissociative experiences.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Diagnoses listed under the DSM-5 are dissociative identity disorder, dissociative amnesia, depersonalisation/derealisation disorder, other specified dissociative disorder and unspecified dissociative disorder. The list of available dissociative disorders listed in the DSM-5 changed from the DSM-IV-TR, as the authors removed the diagnosis of dissociative fugue, classifying it instead as a subtype of dissociative amnesia. Furthermore, the authors recognised derealisation on the same diagnostic level of depersonalisation with the opportunity of differentiating between the two.

The DSM-IV-TR considers symptoms such as depersonalisation, derealisation and psychogenic amnesia to be core features of dissociative disorders. The DSM-5 carried these symptoms over and described symptoms as positive and negative. Positive symptoms include unwanted intrusions that alter continuity of subjective experiences, which account for the first two symptoms listed earlier with the addition of fragmentation of identity. Negative symptoms include loss of access to information and mental functions that are normally readily accessible, which describes amnesia.

Peritraumatic Dissociation

Peritraumatic dissociation is considered to be dissociation that is experienced during and immediately following a traumatic event. Research is on-going related to its development, its importance, and its relationship to trauma, dissociative disorders, and predicting the development of PTSD.

Measurements

Two of the most commonly used screening tools in the community are the Dissociative Experiences Scale and the Multiscale Dissociation Inventory. Meanwhile, the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV – Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D) and its second iteration, the SCID-D-R, are both semi-structured interviews and are considered psychometrically strong diagnostic tools.

Other tools include the Office Mental Status Examination (OMSE), which is used clinically due to inherent subjectivity and lack of quantitative use. There is also the Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule (DDSI), which lacks substantive clarity for differential diagnostics.

Peritraumatic dissociation is measured through the Peritraumatic Dissociative Scale.

Aetiology

Neurobiological Mechanism

Preliminary research suggests that dissociation-inducing events, drugs like ketamine, and seizures generate slow rhythmic activity (1-3 Hz) in layer 5 neurons of the posteromedial cortex in humans (retrosplenial cortex in mice). These slow oscillations disconnect other brain regions from interacting with the posteromedial cortex, which may explain the overall experience of dissociation.

Trauma

Dissociation has been described as one of a constellation of symptoms experienced by some victims of multiple forms of childhood trauma, including physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. This is supported by studies which suggest that dissociation is correlated with a history of trauma.

Dissociation appears to have a high specificity and a low sensitivity to having a self-reported history of trauma, which means that dissociation is much more common among those who are traumatised, yet at the same time there are many people who have suffered from trauma but who do not show dissociative symptoms.

Adult dissociation when combined with a history of child abuse and otherwise interpersonal violence-related PTSD has been shown to contribute to disturbances in parenting behaviour, such as exposure of young children to violent media. Such behaviour may contribute to cycles of familial violence and trauma.

Symptoms of dissociation resulting from trauma may include depersonalisation, psychological numbing, disengagement, or amnesia regarding the events of the abuse. It has been hypothesized that dissociation may provide a temporarily effective defence mechanism in cases of severe trauma; however, in the long term, dissociation is associated with decreased psychological functioning and adjustment.

Other symptoms sometimes found along with dissociation in victims of traumatic abuse (often referred to as “sequelae to abuse”) include anxiety, PTSD, low self-esteem, somatisation, depression, chronic pain, interpersonal dysfunction, substance abuse, self-harm and suicidal ideation or actions. These symptoms may lead the victim to present the symptoms as the source of the problem.

Child abuse, especially chronic abuse starting at early ages, has been related to high levels of dissociative symptoms in a clinical sample, including amnesia for abuse memories. It has also been seen that girls who suffered abuse during their childhood had higher reported dissociation scores than did boys who reported dissociation during their childhood. A non-clinical sample of adult women linked increased levels of dissociation to sexual abuse by a significantly older person prior to age 15, and dissociation has also been correlated with a history of childhood physical and sexual abuse. When sexual abuse is examined, the levels of dissociation were found to increase along with the severity of the abuse.

A 2012 review article supports the hypothesis that current or recent trauma may affect an individual’s assessment of the more distant past, changing the experience of the past and resulting in dissociative states.

Psychoactive substances

Refer to Dissociative Drug.

Psychoactive drugs can often induce a state of temporary dissociation. Substances with dissociative properties include ketamine, nitrous oxide, alcohol, tiletamine, amphetamine, dextromethorphan, MK-801, PCP, methoxetamine, salvia, muscimol, atropine, ibogaine, and minocycline.

Correlations

Hypnosis and Suggestibility

There is evidence to suggest that dissociation is correlated with hypnotic suggestibility, specifically with dissociative symptoms related to trauma. However, the relationship between dissociation and hypnotic suggestibility appears to be complex and indicates further research is necessary.

Aspects of hypnosis include absorption, dissociation, suggestibility, and willingness to receive behavioural instruction from others. Both hypnotic suggestibility and dissociation tend to be less mindful, and hypnosis is used as a treatment modality for dissociation, anxiety, chronic pain, trauma, and more. Difference between hypnosis and dissociation: one is suggested, imposed by self or other, meaning dissociation is generally more spontaneous altering of awareness.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation have shown an inverse relationship specifically with dissociation related to re-experiencing trauma due to the lack of present awareness inherent with dissociation. The re-experiencing episodes can include anything between illusions, distortions in perceived reality, and disconnectedness from the present moment. It is believed that the nature of dissociation as an avoidance coping or defence mechanism related to trauma inhibits resolution and integration.

Mindfulness and meditation also can alter the state of awareness to the present moment; however, unlike dissociation, it is clinically used to bring greater awareness to an individual’s present state of being. It achieves this through increased abilities to self-regulate attention, emotion, and physiological arousal, maintain continuity of consciousness, and adopt an approach to the present experience that is open and curious. In practice, non-judgmental awareness has displayed a positive relationship with lower symptoms of PTSD avoidance, which can relate to greater opportunities for success with exposure therapy and lowering PTSD symptoms of hypervigilance, re-experiencing, and overgeneralization of fears.

When using mindfulness and meditation with people expressing trauma symptoms, it is crucial to be aware of potential trauma triggers, such as the focus on the breath. Often, a meditation session will begin with focused attention and move into open monitoring. With severe trauma symptoms, it may be important to start the meditation training and an individual session at the peripheral awareness, such as the limbs. Moreover, trauma survivors often report feeling numb as a protection against trauma triggers and reminders, which are often painful, making it good practice to start all trainings at the limbs as a gradual exposure to body sensations. Doing so will also increase physical attachment to the present moment and the sense of grounding, thereby increasing tolerance to trauma reminders and decreasing the need and use of dissociation.

Treatment

When receiving treatment, patients are assessed to discover their level of functioning. Some patients might be higher functioning than others. This is taken into account when creating a patient’s potential treatment targets. To start off treatment, time is dedicated to increasing a patient’s mental level and adaptive actions in order to gain a balance in both their mental and behavioural action. Once this is achieved, the next goal is to work on removing or minimising the phobia made by traumatic memories, which is causing the patient to dissociate. The final step of treatment includes helping patients work through their grief in order to move forward and be able to engage in their own lives. This is done with the use of new coping skills attained through treatment. One coping skill that can improve dissociation is mindfulness due to the introduction of staying in present awareness while observing non-judgmentally and increasing the ability to regulate emotions. Specifically in adolescents, mindfulness has been shown to reduce dissociation after practicing mindfulness for three weeks.

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On This Day … 21 April [2022]

People (Births)

  • 1936 – James Dobson, American evangelist, psychologist, and author, founded Focus on the Family.

James Dobson

James Clayton Dobson Jr. (born 21 April 1936) is an American evangelical Christian author, psychologist, and founder of Focus on the Family (FOTF), which he led from 1977 until 2010. In the 1980s he was ranked as one of the most influential spokesmen for conservative social positions in American public life. Although never an ordained minister, he was called “the nation’s most influential evangelical leader” by The New York Times while Slate portrayed him as a successor to evangelical leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

As part of his former role in the organisation, he produced the daily radio programme Focus on the Family, which the organisation has said was broadcast in more than a dozen languages and on over 7,000 stations worldwide, and reportedly heard daily by more than 220 million people in 164 countries. Focus on the Family was also carried by about sixty US television stations daily. Dobson also founded the Family Research Council in 1981. He is no longer affiliated with Focus on the Family. Dobson founded Family Talk as a non-profit organisation in 2010 and launched a new radio broadcast, Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson, that began on 03 May 2010, on over 300 stations nationwide.

What is Memory Inhibition?

Introduction

In psychology, memory inhibition is the ability not to remember irrelevant information. The scientific concept of memory inhibition should not be confused with everyday uses of the word “inhibition”. Scientifically speaking, memory inhibition is a type of cognitive inhibition, which is the stopping or overriding of a mental process, in whole or in part, with or without intention.

Memory inhibition is a critical component of an effective memory system. While some memories are retained for a lifetime, most memories are forgotten. According to evolutionary psychologists, forgetting is adaptive because it facilitates selectivity of rapid, efficient recollection. For example, a person trying to remember where they parked their car would not want to remember every place they have ever parked. In order to remember something, therefore, it is essential not only to activate the relevant information, but also to inhibit irrelevant information.

There are many memory phenomena that seem to involve inhibition, although there is often debate about the distinction between interference and inhibition.

Refer to Repressed Memory and Recovered Memory Therapy.

Brief History

In the early days of psychology, the concept of inhibition was prevalent and influential (e.g. Breese, 1899; Pillsbury, 1908; Wundt, 1902). These psychologists applied the concept of inhibition (and interference) to early theories of learning and forgetting. Starting in 1894, German scientists Muller and Shumann conducted empirical studies that demonstrated how learning a second list of items interfered with memory of the first list. Based on these experiments, Muller argued that the process of attention was based on facilitation. Arguing for a different explanation, Wundt (1902) claimed that selective attention was accomplished by the active inhibition of unattended information, and that to attend to one of several simultaneous stimuli, the others had to be inhibited. American Psychologist Walter Pillsbury combined Muller and Wundt’s arguments, claiming that attention both facilitates information that is wanted and inhibits information that is unwanted.

In the face of behaviourism during the late 1920s through the 1950s, and through the early growth of cognitive psychology in the late 1950s and early 1960s, inhibition largely disappeared as a theory. Instead, classical interference theory dominated memory research until as late as 1960. By the early 1970s, however, classical interference theory began to decline due to its reliance on associationism, its inability to explain the facts of interference or how interference applies to everyday life, and to newly published reports on proactive and retroactive inhibition.

Since the mid-1980s, there has been a renewed interest in understanding the role of inhibition in cognition. Research on a wide variety of psychological processes, including attention, perception, learning and memory, psycholinguistics, cognitive development, aging, learning disabilities, and neuropsychology, suggests that resistance to interference (which implies capacity for inhibition) is an important part of cognition.

More recently, researchers suggest that the hippocampus plays a role in the regulation of disliked and competing memories, and fMRI studies have shown hippocampus activity during inhibition processes.

Empirical Research

Part-Set Cuing Effect

The “part-set cuing effect” was initially discovered by Slamecka (1968), who found that providing a portion of to-be-remembered items as test cues often impairs retrieval of the remaining un-cued items compared with performance in a no-cue (free-recall) control condition. Such an effect is intriguing because normally cues are expected to aid recall (e.g. Tulving & Pearlstone, 1966). A prominent figure in retrieval-based inhibition research, Henry L. Roediger III was another one of the first psychologists to propose the idea that retrieving an item reduces the subsequent accessibility of other stored items. Becoming aware of the part-set cueing effect reduces the effect, such that relearning part of a set of previously learned associations can improve recall of the non-relearned associations.

Hasher and Zacks’ Inhibition Account of Ageing

Using inhibition to explain memory processes began with the work of Hasher and Zacks (1988), which focused on the cognitive costs associated with aging and bridging the attention-memory gap. Hasher and Zacks found that older adults show impairments on tasks that require inhibiting irrelevant information in working memory, and these impairments may lead to problems in a variety of contexts.

Retrieval-Induced Forgetting

Anderson and Spellman’s model of retrieval-induced forgetting suggests that when items compete during retrieval, an inhibitory process will serve to suppress those competitors. For instance, retrieval of one meaning for a word (e.g. the verb meaning of the word sock) will tend to inhibit the dominant meaning of that word (e.g. the noun meaning of sock). In 1995, Anderson and Spellman conducted a three-phase study using their retrieval-induced forgetting model to demonstrate unlearning as inhibition.

  • Study phase: Participants study a list of category-exemplar pairings where some exemplars semantically similar in that they belong to another category besides the one they are explicitly paired with (e.g. Food-Cracker, Food-Strawberry, Red-Tomato, Red-Blood).
  • Retrieval-practice phase: Participants are cued to practice remembering some of the exemplars given the category cue (e.g. Red-Bl__).
  • Test phase: Given each category as a cue, the participant tries to recall the exemplar (e.g. Food-C__, Food-S__, Red-T__, Red-Bl__).

Anderson and Spellman observed that items that shared a semantic relationship with practiced information was less recallable. Using the example from above, recall of items related to practiced information, including tomato and strawberry was lower than recall for cracker, even though strawberry is part of a different pair. This finding suggests that associative competition by explicit category cue is not the only factor in retrieval difficulty. They theorised that the brain suppresses, or inhibits, non-practiced attributes. This explains why an item that is very similar to tomato, but not from the same pair, also exhibits decreased recall rate.

“Think/No-Think” Paradigm and Intentional Inhibition

During the recovered memory debate of the 1990s, cognitive psychologists were dubious about whether specific memories could be repressed. One stumbling block was that repression had not been demonstrated in a research study. In 2001, researchers Anderson and Green claimed to have found laboratory evidence of suppression. They trained their participants with a list of unrelated word pairs (such as ordeal-roach), so they could respond with the second member of the pair (roach) when they saw the other member (ordeal). The more frequently participants had tried to not think about a particular word, the less likely they were to retrieve it on a final memory test. This impairment even occurred when participants were given an “independent probe” test, i.e. given a similar category (insect) instead of the original cue (roach), and asked to fill in the blank on the memory test: insect-r_____. According to Anderson and Green, the fact that participants had a decreased ability to recall items they were told to forget strongly supports the existence of an inhibitory control mechanism and the idea that people have the ability to suppress unwanted memories.

Though Anderson & Green’s (2001) results have been replicated several times, a group of prominent psychology researchers using the same methodology as the original study were unable to replicate even the basic result (Bulevich, Roediger, Balota, & Butler, 2006). They determined that suppression is not a robust experimental phenomenon in the think/no-think paradigm and suggested that Anderson and Green’s findings could be explained by retroactive interference, or simply thinking about X when told to “not think” about Y.

Amnesia for Trauma or Abuse

Amnesia, the forgetting of important personal information, usually occurs because of disease or injury to the brain, while Psychogenic amnesia, which involves a loss of personal identity and has psychological causes, is rare. Nonetheless, a range of studies have concluded that at least 10% of physical and sexual abuse victims forget the abuse. Some studies claim that the rate of delayed recall of many forms of traumatic experiences (including natural disasters, kidnapping, torture and more) averages among studies at approximately 15%, with the highest rates resulting from child sexual abuse, military combat, and witnessing a family member murdered. A 1996 interview survey of 711 women reported that forgetting and later remembering childhood sexual abuse is not uncommon; more than a quarter of the respondents who reported abuse also reported forgetting the abuse for some period of time and then recalling it on their own. Of those who reported abuse, less than 2% reported that the recall of the abuse was assisted by a therapist or other professional. Other studies show that people who have experienced trauma usually remember it, not forget it. (McNally, 2001) found that women who report having either repressed or recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse have no worse memory for trauma cue words than women who have never been sexually abused. Similarly, McNally (1998) found that women who were sexually abused as children and who developed PTSD as a result of their abuse will not have any more trouble recalling trauma related words than healthy adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse or women who were never abused as children.

Although the rate of recall of previously forgotten traumatic events was shown by Elliot and Briere (1996) to be unaffected by whether or not the victim had a history of being in psychotherapy, individuals who report repressed memories are more susceptible to producing false memories than individuals who could always recall the memory. Williams found that among women with confirmed histories of sexual abuse, approximately 38% did not recall the abuse 17 years later, especially when it was perpetrated by someone familiar to them. Hopper cites several studies which indicate that some abuse victims will have intervals of complete amnesia for their abuse. Peer reviewed and clinical studies have documented the existence of recovered memory; one website lists 43 legal cases where an individual whose claim to have recovered a repressed memory has been accepted by a court. Traumatic amnesia, which allegedly involves the forgetting of specific traumatic events for long periods of time, is highly controversial, as is repression, the psychodynamic explanation of traumatic amnesia. Because these concepts lack good empirical support, psychological scientists are sceptical about the validity of “recovered memories”, and argue that some therapists, through suggestive techniques, have (un)knowingly encouraged false memories of victimisation.

Evidence Against

The idea that subjects can actively inhibit a memory has many critics. MacLeod (2003) challenged the idea of inhibition in cognitive control, arguing that inhibition can be attributed to conflict resolution, which is the error-prone act of choosing between two similar values that do not necessarily have the same pair. Re-examine the pairs from above: Food-Cracker, Food-Strawberry, Red-Tomato, and Red-Blood. Memory inhibition theories suggest that recall of strawberry decreases when recall of tomato decreases because tomato’s attributes are inhibited when red-blood is learned. MacLeod argues that inhibition does not take place, but instead is the result of confusion between similar word-pairs like food-tomato and red-strawberry that can lead to errors. This is different from tomato’s attributes being inhibited. “In most cases where inhibitory mechanisms have been offered to explain cognitive performance”, explains MacLeod, “non-inhibitory mechanisms can accomplish the same goal (p.203)”.

What is Positive Psychology?

Introduction

Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living, focusing on both individual and societal well-being.

It studies “positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions…it aims to improve quality of life.” It is a field of study that has been growing steadily throughout the years as individuals and researchers look for common ground on better well-being.

Positive psychology began as a new domain of psychology in 1998 when Martin Seligman chose it as the theme for his term as president of the American Psychological Association. It is a reaction against past practices, which have tended to focus on mental illness and emphasized maladaptive behaviour and negative thinking. It builds on the humanistic movement by Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, James Bugental, and Carl Rogers, which encourages an emphasis on happiness, well-being, and positivity, thus creating the foundation for what is now known as positive psychology.

Positive psychology focuses on eudaimonia, an Ancient Greek term for “the good life” and the concept for reflection on the factors that contribute the most to a well-lived and fulfilling life. Positive psychologists often use the terms subjective well-being and happiness interchangeably.

Positive psychologists have suggested a number of factors may contribute to happiness and subjective well-being. For example, social ties with a spouse, family, friends, colleagues, and wider networks; membership in clubs or social organisations; physical exercise; and the practice of meditation. Spirituality can also be considered a factor that leads to increased individual happiness and well-being. Spiritual practice and religious commitment is a topic researchers have been studying as another possible source for increased well-being and an added part of positive psychology. Happiness may rise with increasing financial income, though it may plateau or even fall when no further gains are made or after a certain cut-off amount.

Definition and Basic Assumptions

Definition

Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi define positive psychology as “the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life.”

Basic Concepts

Positive psychology is concerned with eudaimonia, meaning “the good life” or flourishing. It is focused on living according to what holds the greatest value in life and other such factors that contribute the most to a well-lived and fulfilling life. While not attempting a strict definition of the good life, positive psychologists agree that one must live a happy, engaged, and meaningful life in order to experience “the good life.” Martin Seligman referred to “the good life” as using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification.

Positive psychology complements, without intending to replace or ignore, the traditional areas of psychology. By emphasizing the study of positive human development, this field helps to balance other approaches that focus on disorder, which may produce only limited understanding. Positive psychology has also placed a significant emphasis on fostering positive self-esteem and self-image, though positive psychologists with a less humanist direction are less likely to focus as intently on such topics.

The basic premise of positive psychology is that human beings are often intrigued by the future more than they are driven by the past. It also suggests that a combination of positive experiences and emotions concerning the past, the present, and the future leads to a pleasant, happy life. Another aspect of this may come from our views outside of our own lives. Author of Grit, Angela Duckworth, might view this as having an other-centred purpose, of which could have a positive psychological effect on our lives. Seligman identified other possible goals: families and schools that allow children to grow, workplaces that aim for satisfaction and high productivity, and teaching others about positive psychology. Psychologist Daniel Gilbert has also written extensively on the affects of time perception and happiness.

Those who practice positive psychology attempt psychological interventions that foster positive attitudes toward one’s subjective experiences, individual traits, and life events. The goal is to minimise pathological thoughts that may arise in a hopeless mindset and to develop a sense of optimism toward life. Positive psychologists seek to encourage acceptance of one’s past, excitement and optimism about one’s future experiences, and a sense of contentment and well-being in the present.

Related concepts are happiness, well-being, quality of life, contentment, and meaningful life.

  • Happiness: Has been sought after and discussed throughout time. Research has concluded that happiness can be thought of in the way we act or what we do and how we think in relative terms to it.
  • Well-Being: Has often been referred to what is inherently good for an individual both physically and mentally, though other aspects could be added in to define well-being.
  • Quality of life: Quality of life encompasses more than just physical and mental well-being, it involves socioeconomic factors. It is also perceived differently in different cultures and regions around the world, but can come down to how well you are living and functioning in life.

Research Topics

According to Seligman and Peterson, positive psychology addresses three issues: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Positive emotions are concerned with being content with one’s past, being happy in the present and having hope for the future. Positive individual traits focus on one’s strengths and virtues. Finally, positive institutions are based on strengths to better a community of people.

According to Peterson, positive psychologists are concerned with four topics: positive experiences, enduring psychological traits, positive relationships, and positive institutions. He also states that topics of interest to topics of interest to researchers in the field are states of pleasure or flow, values, strengths, virtues, talents, as well as the ways that these can be promoted by social systems and institutions.

Brief History

Origin

While the formal discipline of positive psychology has only existed since 2000, the concepts that form the basis of it have been the subject of empirical study since at least the 1980s, and present in religious and philosophical discourse for thousands of years. It has been influenced by humanistic as well as psychodynamic approaches to treatment. Predating the use of the term “positive psychology”, researchers within the field of psychology had been focusing on topics that would now be included under this new denomination.

The term positive psychology dates back at least to 1954, when Maslow’s first edition of Motivation and Personality was published with a final chapter titled “Toward a Positive Psychology.” In the second edition published in 1970, he removed that chapter, saying in the preface that “a positive psychology is at least available today though not very widely.” There have been indications that psychologists since the 1950s have been increasingly focused on the promotion of mental health rather than merely treating mental illness. From the beginning of psychology, the field has addressed the human experience using the “Disease Model,” specifically studying and identifying the dysfunction of an individual.

Positive psychology grew as an important field of study within psychology in 1998 when Martin Seligman chose it as the theme for his term as president of the American Psychological Association. In the first sentence of his book Authentic Happiness, Seligman claimed: “for the last half century psychology has been consumed with a single topic only – mental illness,” expanding on Maslow’s comments. He urged psychologists to continue the earlier missions of psychology of nurturing talent and improving normal life.

Development

The first positive psychology summit took place in 1999. The First International Conference on Positive Psychology took place in 2002. More attention was given by the general public in 2006 when, using the same framework, a course at Harvard University became particularly popular. In June 2009, the First World Congress on Positive Psychology took place at the University of Pennsylvania.

The field of positive psychology today is most advanced in the United States and Western Europe. Even though positive psychology offers a new approach to the study of positive emotions and behaviour, the ideas, theories, research, and motivation to study the positive side of human behaviour is as old as humanity.

Influences

Several humanistic psychologists, most notably Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Erich Fromm, developed theories and practices pertaining to human happiness and flourishing. More recently, positive psychologists have found empirical support for the humanistic theories of flourishing. In addition, positive psychology has moved ahead in a variety of new directions.

In 1984, Diener published his tripartite model of subjective well-being, positing “three distinct but often related components of wellbeing: frequent positive affect, infrequent negative affect, and cognitive evaluations such as life satisfaction.” In this model, cognitive, affective and contextual factors contribute to subjective well-being. According to Diener and Suh, subjective well-being is “based on the idea that how each person thinks and feels about his or her life is important.”

Carol Ryff’s Six-factor Model of Psychological Well-being was initially published in 1989, and additional testing of its factors was published in 1995. It postulates six factors which are key for well-being, namely self-acceptance, personal growth, purpose in life, environmental mastery, autonomy, and positive relations with others.

According to Corey Keyes, who collaborated with Carol Ryff and uses the term flourishing as a central concept, mental well-being has three components, namely hedonic (c.q. subjective or emotional), psychological, and social well-being. Hedonic well-being concerns emotional aspects of well-being, whereas psychological and social well-being, c.q. eudaimonic well-being, concerns skills, abilities, and optimal functioning. This tripartite model of mental well-being has received extensive empirical support across cultures.

Influences in Ancient History

While the formal title “positive psychology” has only been in common use since around 2000, the concepts that form the basis of this field have been present in religious and philosophical discourse for thousands of years. The field of psychology predating the use of the term positive psychology has seen researchers who focused primarily on topics that would now be included under the umbrella of positive psychology. Some view positive psychology as a meeting of Eastern thought, such as Buddhism, and Western psychodynamic approaches. The historical roots of positive psychology are found in the teachings of Aristotle, whose Nicomachean Ethics teach the cultivation of moral virtue as the means of attaining happiness and well-being, which he referred to as eudaimonia.

Core Theory and Methods

There is no accepted “gold standard” theory in positive psychology. However, the work of Seligman is regularly quoted. So too the work of Csikszentmihalyi and older models of well-being, such as Carol Ryff’s Six-factor Model of Psychological Well-being and Diener’s tripartite model of subjective well-being.

Initial Theory: Three Paths to Happiness

In Authentic Happiness (2002) Seligman proposed three kinds of a happy life that can be investigated:

  • Pleasant life: research into the Pleasant Life, or the “life of enjoyment,” examines how people optimally experience, forecast, and savour the positive feelings and emotions that are part of normal and healthy living (e.g. relationships, hobbies, interests, entertainment, etc.). Despite the attention given, Martin Seligman says this most transient element of happiness may be the least important.
  • Good Life: investigation of the beneficial effects of immersion, absorption, and flow felt by individuals when optimally engaged with their primary activities, is the study of the Good Life, or the “life of engagement.” Flow is experienced when there is a positive match between a person’s strength and their current task, i.e. when one feels confident of accomplishing a chosen or assigned task.
  • Meaningful Life: inquiry into the Meaningful Life, or “life of affiliation,” questions how individuals derive a positive sense of well-being, belonging, meaning, and purpose from being part of and contributing back to something larger and more permanent than themselves (e.g. nature, social groups, organisations, movements, traditions, belief systems).

PERMA

In Flourish (2011) Seligman argued that the last category of his proposed three kinds of a happy life, “meaningful life,” can be considered as 3 different categories. The resulting summary for this theory is Seligman’s PERMA acronym: Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and purpose, and Accomplishments. It is a mnemonic for the five elements of Martin Seligman’s well-being theory:

ElementOutline
Positive EmotionsInclude a wide range of feelings, not just happiness and joy. Included are emotions like excitement, satisfaction, pride and awe, amongst others. These emotions are frequently seen as connected to positive outcomes, such as longer life and healthier social relationships.
EngagementRefers to involvement in activities that draws and builds upon one’s interests. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains true engagement as flow, a state of deep effortless involvement, feeling of intensity that leads to a sense of ecstasy and clarity. The task being done needs to call upon higher skill and be a bit difficult and challenging yet still possible. Engagement involves passion for and concentration on the task at hand and is assessed subjectively as to whether the person engaged was completely absorbed, losing self-consciousness.
RelationshipsAre essential in fuelling positive emotions, whether they are work-related, familial, romantic, or platonic. As Christopher Peterson puts it simply, “other people matter.” Humans receive, share, and spread positivity to others through relationships. They are important not only in bad times, but good times as well. In fact, relationships can be strengthened by reacting to one another positively. It is typical that most positive things take place in the presence of other people.
MeaningIs also known as purpose, and prompts the question of “why.” Discovering and figuring out a clear “why” puts everything into context from work to relationships to other parts of life. Finding meaning is learning that there is something greater than one’s self. Despite potential challenges, working with meaning drives people to continue striving for a desirable goal.
AccomplishmentsAre the pursuit of success and mastery. Unlike the other parts of PERMA, they are sometimes pursued even when accomplishments do not result in positive emotions, meaning, or relationships. That being noted, accomplishments can activate the other elements of PERMA, such as pride, under positive emotion. Accomplishments can be individual or community-based, fun- or work-based.

Each of the five PERMA elements was selected according to three criteria:

  • It contributes to well-being.
  • It is pursued for its own sake.
  • It is defined and measured independently of the other elements.

Character Strengths and Virtues

The development of the Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) handbook (2004) represented the first attempt by Seligman and Peterson to identify and classify positive psychological traits of human beings. Much like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of general psychology, the CSV provided a theoretical framework to assist in understanding strengths and virtues and for developing practical applications for positive psychology. This manual identified 6 classes of virtues (i.e. “core virtues”), underlying 24 measurable character strengths.

The CSV suggested these 6 virtues have a historical basis in the vast majority of cultures; in addition, these virtues and strengths can lead to increased happiness when built upon. Notwithstanding numerous cautions and caveats, this suggestion of universality hints threefold:

  1. The study of positive human qualities broadens the scope of psychological research to include mental wellness;
  2. The leaders of the positive psychology movement are challenging moral relativism, suggesting people are “evolutionarily predisposed” toward certain virtues; and
  3. Virtue has a biological basis.

The organisation of the 6 virtues and 24 strengths is as follows:

  • Wisdom and knowledge: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective, innovation, prudence.
  • Courage: bravery, persistence, vitality, zest.
  • Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence.
  • Justice: citizenship, fairness, leadership, integrity, excellence.
  • Temperance: forgiveness and mercy, humility, self control.
  • Transcendence: appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope, humour, spirituality.

Recent research challenged the need for 6 virtues. Instead, researchers suggested the 24 strengths are more accurately grouped into just 3 or 4 categories: Intellectual Strengths, Interpersonal Strengths, and Temperance Strengths, or alternatively, Interpersonal Strengths, Fortitude, Vitality, and Cautiousness. These strengths, and their classifications, have emerged independently elsewhere in literature on values. Paul Thagard described examples, which included Jeff Shrager’s workshops to discover the habits of highly creative people. Some research indicates that well-being effects that appear to be due to spirituality are actually better described as due to virtue.

Flow

In the 1970s, Hungarian-American psychologist Csikszentmihalyi began studying flow, a state of absorption where one’s abilities are well-matched to the demands at-hand. Flow is characterised by intense concentration, loss of self-awareness, a feeling of being perfectly challenged (neither bored nor overwhelmed), and a sense that “time is flying.” Flow is intrinsically rewarding; it can also assist in the achievement of goals (e.g. winning a game) or improving skills (e.g. becoming a better chess player). Anyone can experience flow and it can be felt in different domains, such as play, creativity, and work. Flow is achieved when the challenge of the situation meets one’s personal abilities. A mismatch of challenge for someone of low skills results in a state of anxiety and feeling overwhelmed; insufficient challenge for someone highly skilled, results in boredom.

Flow can be extremely beneficial when it comes to parenting children. When flow is enhanced between parents and their children, the parents are more capable of thriving in their role as a parent. A parenting style that is positively oriented will also result in children that experience lower levels of stress and overall improve the child’s well-being.

Research Advances and Applications

Topical and methodological development has expanded the field of positive psychology. These advances have enabled the field of positive psychology to grow beyond its core theories and methods. Positive psychology is now a global area of study, with various national indices tracking citizens’ happiness ratings.

Research Findings

Research in positive psychology, well-being, eudaimonia and happiness, and the theories of Diener, Ryff, Keyes and Seligman cover a broad range of topics including “the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life.” A meta-analysis on 49 studies in 2009 showed that Positive Psychology Interventions (PPI) produced improvements in well-being and lower depression levels, the PPIs studied included writing gratitude letters, learning optimistic thinking, replaying positive life experiences and socialising with others. In a later meta-analysis of 39 studies with 6,139 participants in 2012, the outcomes were positive. Three to six months after a PPI the effects for subjective well-being and psychological well-being were still significant. However the positive effect was weaker than in the 2009 meta analysis, the authors concluded that this was because they only used higher quality studies. The PPIs they considered included counting blessings, kindness practices, making personal goals, showing gratitude and focusing on personal strengths. Another review of PPIs published in 2018 found that over 78% of intervention studies were conducted in Western countries.

In the textbook Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness, authors Compton and Hoffman give the “Top Down Predictors” of well-being as high self esteem, optimism, self efficacy, a sense of meaning in life and positive relationships with others. The personality traits most associated with well being are extraversion, agreeability and low levels of neuroticism.

In a study published in 2020, students were enrolled in a positive psychology course that focused on improving happiness and well-being through teaching about positive psychology. The participants answer questions pertaining to the 5 categories known as PERMA. At the end of the semester those same students reported significantly higher scores in all categories (p <.001) minus engagement which was significant at p <0.05. One of the aims of this study was to make it rewarding for positive psychology interventions to stay in the participants lives. The authors stated:

“Not only do students learn and get credit, there is also a good chance that many will reap the benefits in what is most important to them—their health, happiness, and well-being.”

Academic Methods

Quantitative

Quantitative methods in positive psychology include p-technique factor analysis, dynamic factor analysis, interindividual differences and structural equation modelling, spectral analysis and item response models, dynamic systems analysis, latent growth analysis, latent-class models, hierarchical linear modelling, measurement invariance, experimental methods, behaviour genetics, and integration of quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Qualitative

In a 2012 Journal of Positive Psychology article published by Grant J. Rich, the usage of qualitative methodology to study positive psychology is explored and considered. Author Rich addresses the popularity of quantitative methods in studying the empirical questions that positive psychology presents. He argues that there is an “overemphasis” on quantitative methods and suggests implementing qualitative methods, such as semi-structured interviews, observations, fieldwork, creative artwork, and focus groups. Rich states that qualitative approaches are valuable approaches to studying positive psychology. He writes that usage of qualitative methods will further promote the “flourishing of positive psychology” and encourages such practice.

Behavioural Interventions

Changing happiness levels through interventions is a further methodological advancement in the study of positive psychology. Enhancing happiness through behavioural interventions has been the focus of various academic and scientific psychological publications. Happiness-enhancing interventions include expressing kindness, gratitude, optimism, humility, awe, and mindfulness.

In 2005, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Kennon M. Sheldon, and David Schkade co-authored an academic paper published in the Review of General Psychology. In their research, they created a behavioural experiment using two 6-week interventions. One intervention studied was the performance of acts of kindness. The other was focused on gratitude and emphasized the counting of one’s blessings. The study participants who went through the behavioural interventions reported higher levels of happiness and well-being than those who did not participate in either intervention. The paper provides experimental support for the effect of gratitude and kindness on enhancing subjective well-being and happiness.

Further research conducted by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Rene Dickerhoof, Julia K. Boehm, and Kennon M. Sheldon, published in 2011 in the academic journal Emotion, found that the interventions of expressing optimism and expressing gratitude enhanced subjective well-being in participants who took part in the intervention for 8 months. The researchers concluded that interventions are “most successful when participants know about, endorse, and commit to the intervention.” The article provides support that when individuals enthusiastically take part in behavioural interventions, such as expression of optimism and gratitude, they may be engaging in an approach to increase happiness and subjective well-being.

In 2014, Elliott Kruse, Joseph Chancellor, Peter M. Ruberton, and Sonja Lyubomirsky published an academic article in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science. In their research, they study the interaction effects between gratitude and humility through behaviour interventions. The interventions they studied were writing a gratitude letter and writing a 14-day diary. In both interventions, Kruse et al. found that gratitude and humility are connected and are “mutually reinforcing.” The article also discusses how gratitude, and its associated humility, may lead to more positive emotional states and subjective well-being.

Researchers Melanie Rudd, Kathleen D. Vohs, and Jennifer Aaker conducted a series of experiments that showed a positive effect of awe on subjective well-being, publishing their results in 2012 in the academic journal Psychological Science. Their research found that individuals who felt awe also reported feeling higher availability of time, more preference for experiential expenditures than material expenditures, and greater life satisfaction. Experiences that heighten awe may lead to higher levels of life satisfaction and, in turn, higher levels of happiness and subjective well-being.

Mindfulness interventions may also increase happiness. In a Mindfulness article published in 2011 by Torbjörn Josefsson, Pernilla Larsman, Anders G. Broberg, and Lars-Gunnar Lundh, it was found that meditation improves subjective well-being for individuals who mindfully meditate. The researchers note that being mindful in meditation includes awareness and observation of one’s meditation practice, with non-reaction and non-judgemental sentiments during meditation.

National Indices of Happiness

The creation of various national indices of happiness have broadened and expanded the field of positive psychology to a global scale.

In a January 2000 academic article published in American Psychologist, psychologist Ed Diener proposed and argued for the creation of a national happiness index in the United States. Such an index would provide measurements of happiness, or subjective well-being, within the United States and across many other countries in the world. Diener argued that national indices would be helpful markers or indicators of population happiness, providing a sense of current ratings and a tracker of happiness across time. Diener proposed that the national index include various sub-measurements of subjective well-being, including “pleasant affect, unpleasant affect, life satisfaction, fulfillment, and more specific states such as stress, affection, trust, and joy.”

In 2012, the first World Happiness Report was published. The World Happiness Report was initiated by the UN General Assembly in June 2011, which passed the Bhutanese Resolution. The Bhutanese Resolution called for nations across the world to “give more importance to happiness and well-being in determining how to achieve and measure social and economic development.” The data for the World Happiness Reports is collected in partnership with the Gallup World Poll’s life evaluations and annual happiness rankings. The World Happiness Report bases its national rankings on how happy constituents self-report and believe themselves to be.

The first World Happiness Report, published in 2012, is a 170-page report that details the state of world happiness, the causes of happiness and misery, policy implications from happiness reports, and three case studies of subjective well-being for:

  • Bhutan and its Gross National Happiness index;
  • The UK Office for National Statistics Experience; and
  • Happiness in the member countries within the OECD.

The World Happiness Report published in 2020 is the 8th publication in the series of reports. It is the first World Happiness Report to include happiness rankings of cities across the world, in addition to rankings of 156 countries. The city of Helsinki, Finland was reported as the city with the highest subjective well-being ranking, and the country of Finland was reported as the country with the highest subjective well-being ranking for the third year in a row. The 2020 report provides insights on happiness based on environmental conditions, social conditions, urban-rural happiness differentials, and sustainable development. It also provides overview and possible explanations for why Nordic countries have consistently ranked in the top ten happiest countries in the World Happiness Report since 2013. Possible explanations include Nordic countries’ high-quality government benefits and protections to its citizens, including welfare benefits and well-operated democratic institutions, as well as social connections, bonding, and trust.

Additional national well-being indices and reported statistics include the Gallup Global Emotions Report, Gallup Sharecare Well-Being Index, Global Happiness Council’s Global Happiness and Well-being Policy Report, Happy Planet Index, Indigo Wellness Index, OECD Better Life Index, and UN Human Development Reports.

Influences on other Academic Fields

Positive psychology has influenced a variety of other academic fields of study and scholarship. It has been applied to various other areas of scholarship, most notably organizational behaviour, education and psychiatry.

Positive Organisational Scholarship (POS)

Positive Organisational Scholarship (POS), also referred to as Positive Organisational Behaviour (POB), began as a direct application of positive psychology to the field of organisational behaviour. One of the first times the term was officially defined and published was in 2003, in the text Positive Organisational Scholarship: Foundations of a New Discipline edited by University of Michigan Ross School of Business professors Kim S. Cameron, Jane E. Dutton, and Robert E. Quinn. In the first chapter of the text, Cameron, Dutton, and Quinn promote “the best of the human condition,” such as goodness, compassion, resilience, and positive human potential, as an organisational goal as important as financial organisational success. The goal of POS is to study the factors that create positive work experiences and successful, people-oriented organisational outcomes.

A large collection of POS research is contained in the 2011 volume The Oxford Handbook of Positive Organisational Scholarship, edited by University of Michigan Ross School of Business Professors Kim S. Cameron and Gretchen M. Spreitzer. This 1076-page volume encompasses nine sections and 79 chapters spanning various topics. Major topics include positive human resource practices, positive organisational practices, and positive leadership and change. Much of the volume expands upon and applies core concepts of positive psychology to the workplace context, covering areas such as positive individual attributes, positive emotions, strengths and virtues, and positive relationships. A further definition of POS, as written by editors Cameron and Spreitzer:

Positive organizational scholarship rigorously seeks to understand what represents the best of the human condition based on scholarly research and theory. Just as positive psychology focuses on exploring optimal individual psychological states rather than pathological ones, organizational scholarship focuses attention on the generative dynamics in organizations that lead to the development of human strength, foster resiliency in employees, enable healing and restoration, and cultivate extraordinary individual and organizational performance. POS emphasizes what elevates individuals and organizations (in addition to what challenges them), what goes right in organizations (in addition to what goes wrong), what is life-giving (in addition to what is problematic or life-depleting), what is experienced as good (in addition to what is objectionable), and what is inspiring (in addition to what is difficult or arduous). (Cameron, Kim S.; Spreitzer, Gretchen M. (2011). “Chapter 1. Introduction: What is Positive about Positive Organizational Scholarship?”. In Spreitzer, Gretchen M.; Cameron, Kim S. (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship.)

Psychiatry

Positive psychology has influenced psychiatry by providing additional therapeutic and cognitive behaviour shifts, including well-being therapy, positive psychotherapy, and practicing an integration of positive psychology in therapeutic practice.

In an 2015 academic article published in Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, Mills and Kreutzer argue for the principles of positive psychology to be implemented to assist those recovering from traumatic brain injury (TBI). They make the case that TBI rehabilitation practices rely on the betterment of the individual through engaging in everyday practices, a practice significantly related to tenets of positive psychology. Their proposal to connect positive psychology with TBI vocational rehabilitation (VR) also looks at happiness and its correlation with improvements in mental health, including increased confidence and productivity, as well as others. While the authors point out that empirical evidence for positive psychology is limited, they clarify that positive psychology’s focus on small successes, optimism and prosocial behaviour is promising for improvements in the social and emotional well-being of TBI patients.

Popular Culture

The study of positive psychology has been translated into various popular media outlets, including books and films, and has been an influencing factor in the wellness industry.

Books

There have been several popular psychology books written by positive psychologists for a general audience.

Ilona Boniwell, in her book Positive Psychology in a Nutshell, provided a summary of the current research. According to Boniwell, well-being is related to optimism, extraversion, social connections (i.e. close friendships), being married, having engaging work, religion or spirituality, leisure, good sleep and exercise, social class (through lifestyle differences and better coping methods) and subjective health (what you think about your health). Boniwell further writes that well-being is not related to age, physical attractiveness, money (once basic needs are met), gender (women are more often depressed but also more often joyful), educational level, having children (although they add meaning to life), moving to a sunnier climate, crime prevention, housing and objective health (what doctors say).

Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, provides advice and guidance on how to improve happiness. According to The How of Happiness, individuals should create new habits, seek out new emotions, use variety and timing to prevent hedonic adaptation, and enlist others to motivate and support during the creation of those new habits. Lyubomirsky gives 12 happiness activities, including savouring life, learning to forgive, and living in the present.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert is another popular book that shares positive psychology research findings for a general readership audience. Gilbert presents research suggesting that individuals are often poor at predicting what will make them happy in the future and that individuals are prone to misevaluating the causes of their happiness. He also notes that the subjectivity of subjective well-being and happiness often is the most difficult challenge to overcome in predicting future happiness, noting that our future selves may have different subjective perspectives on life than our current selves.

Films

Coverage of positive psychology has entered the film industry. Similarly, films have provided the basis of new research within positive psychology.

Happy (2011 film) is a full-length documentary film covering overviewing the fields of positive psychology and neuroscience. It also highlights various case studies on happiness across diverse cultures and geographies. The film features interviews with notable positive psychologists and scholars, including Daniel Gilbert, Ed Diener, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

The Positive Psychology News website includes a section on annual Positive Psychology Movie Awards. The Positive Psychology Movie Awards ranks a short list of feature films of 2009, 2014, and annually between 2016 and 2018 that feature powerful messages of positive psychology. The rankings are according to the website’s author, Ryan Niemiec, Psy.D, who is a psychologist, coach, and education director of the VIA Institute on Character. The Positive Psychology Movie Awards presents separate awards for categories including: Best Positive Psychology Film, Award for Positive Relationships, Award for Meaning, Award for Achievement, Award for Mindfulness, Award for Happiness, Signature Strengths Use, among others.

Further research done on positive psychology as represented in feature films has been done in association with the VIA Institute. Contemporary and popular films that promote or represent character strengths are the basis for various academic articles.

Wellness Industry

The growing popularity and attention given to positive psychology research has influenced industry growth, development, and consumption of products and services meant to cater to wellness and well-being.

According to the Global Wellness Institute, as of 2018, the global wellness economy is valued at $4.5 trillion and the wellness industry represents 5.3% of global economic output. Key sectors of the wellness industry include workplace wellness, fitness and mind-body, personal care, and wellness lifestyle.

Highlighting happiness and well-being has been a strategy harnessed by various companies in their marketing strategies. Food and beverage companies such as Coca-Cola and Pocky, whose motto is “Share happiness!”, emphasize happiness in their commercials, branding, and descriptions. CEOs at retail companies such as Zappos have profited by publishing books detailing their deliverance of happiness, while Amazon’s logo features a dimpled smile.

Criticism

Positive psychology has been criticized in many different aspects from its conception continuing into the present day.

Reality Distortion

In 1988, psychologists Shelley E. Taylor and Jonathan D. Brown co-authored a Psychological Bulletin article that coined the phrase positive illusions. Positive illusions are the cognitive processes individuals engage in when self-aggrandising or self-enhancing. They are the unrealistically positive or self-affirming attitudes that individuals hold of themselves, their position, or their environment. In essence, positive illusions are attitudes of extreme optimism that endure even in the face of facts and real conditions. Taylor and Brown suggested that positive illusions protect individuals from negative feedback that they might receive, and this, in turn, preserves their psychological adaptation and subjective well-being. However, later research has found that engaging in positive illusions and related attitudes has led to psychological maladaptive conditions. These conditions include poorer social relationships, expressions of narcissism, and negative workplace outcomes, thus reducing the positive effects that positive illusions have on subjective well-being, overall happiness, and life satisfaction.

Kirk Schneider, editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, has said that positive psychology fails to explain past heinous behaviours such as those perpetrated by the Nazi party, Stalinist marches and Klan gatherings, to identify but a few. He also pointed to a body of research showing high positivity correlates with positive illusion, which effectively distorts reality. The extent of the downfall of high positivity or flourishing is one could become incapable of psychological growth, unable to self-reflect, and tend to hold racial biases. By contrast, negativity, sometimes evidenced in mild to moderate depression, is correlated with less distortion of reality. Therefore, Schneider argues, negativity might play an important role within the dynamics of human flourishing. To illustrate, conflict engagement and acknowledgement of appropriate negativity, including certain negative emotions like guilt, might better promote flourishing. Overall, Schneider provided perspective: “perhaps genuine happiness is not something you aim at, but is…a by-product of a life well lived – and a life well lived does not settle on the programmed or neatly calibrated.”

Narrow Focus

In 2003, Ian Sample, writing for The Guardian, noted that, “Positive psychologists also stand accused of burying their heads in the sand and ignoring that depressed, even merely unhappy people, have real problems that need dealing with.” He also quoted Steven Wolin, a clinical psychiatrist at George Washington University, as saying that the study of positive psychology is just a reiteration of older ways of thinking, and that there is not much scientific research to support the efficacy of this method. Gable responds to criticism on their Pollyanna view on the world by saying that they are just bringing a balance to a side of psychology that is glaringly understudied. To defend his point, Gable points to the imbalances favouring research into negative psychological well-being in cognitive psychology, health psychology, and social psychology.

Martin Jack has also maintained that positive psychology is not unique in its optimistic approach to looking at optimal emotional well-being, stating that other forms of psychology, such as counselling and educational psychology, are also interested in positive human fulfilment. He goes on to mention that, while positive psychology has pushed for schools to be more student-centred and able to foster positive self-images in children, he worries that a lack of focus on self-control may prevent children from making full contributions to society. If positive psychology is not implemented correctly, it can cause more harm than good. This is the case, for example, when interventions in school are coercive (in the sense of being imposed on everyone without regard for the individual child’s reason for negativity) and fail to take each student’s context into account.

Role of Negativity

Barbara S. Held, a professor at Bowdoin College, argued that while positive psychology makes contributions to the field of psychology, it has its faults. She offered insight into topics including the negative side effects of positive psychology, negativity within the positive psychology movement, and the current division in the field of psychology caused by differing opinions of psychologists on positive psychology. In addition, she noted the movement’s lack of consistency regarding the role of negativity. She also raised issues with the simplistic approach taken by some psychologists in the application of positive psychology. A “one size fits all” approach is arguably not beneficial to the advancement of the field of positive psychology; she suggested a need for individual differences to be incorporated into its application. By teaching young people that being confident and optimistic leads to success, when they are unsuccessful they will begin to believe it is because they are insecure or pessimistic. This could lead them to believe that any negative internal thought or feeling they may experience is damaging to their happiness and should be steered clear of completely.

Toxic Positivity

A recent critical response to the field of positive psychology is that around toxic positivity. Toxic positivity is the phenomenon in which individuals do not fully acknowledge, process, or manage the entire spectrum of human emotion, including anger and sadness. This genre of criticism against positive psychology argues that the field of positive psychology places too much importance on “upbeat thinking, while shunting challenging and difficult experiences to the side.” Individuals who engage in a constant chase for positive experiences or states of high subjective well-being may be inadvertently stigmatizing negative emotional conditions, such as depression, or may be suppressing natural emotional responses, such as sadness, regret, or stress. Furthermore, by not allowing negative emotional states to be experienced, or by suppressing and hiding negative emotional responses, individuals may experience harmful physical, cardiovascular and respiratory consequences. Proponents of combating toxic positivity advocate allowing oneself to accept and fully experience negative emotional states.

Methodological and Philosophical Critiques

Richard Lazarus, who was well known in psychology for his Cognitive-Motivational-Relational theory of emotions, has thoroughly critiqued positive psychology’s methodological and philosophical components. He holds that giving more detail and insight into the positive is not bad, but not at the expense of the negative aspect because the two (positive and negative) are inseparable. The first methodological issue noted is positive psychology’s use of correlational and cross-sectional research designs to indicate causality between the movement’s ideas and healthy lives; there could be other factors not researched and time differences that account for healthier lives that the researchers do not account for. Secondly, he considers that emotions cannot be categorised dichotomously into positive and negative; by nature, emotions are subjective and rich in social/relational meaning. Additionally, he claims that emotions are fluid, meaning that the context they appear in changes over time. He states that “all emotions have the potential of being either one or the other, or both, on different occasions, and even on the same occasion when an emotion is experienced by different persons” The third issue is the neglect of individual differences in most social science research. Many research designs focus on the statistical significance of the groups while overlooking differences among individuals. Lazarus’s final methodological complaint is social science researchers’ tendency to not adequately define and measure emotions. Most assessments are quick checklists and do not provide adequate debriefing. Many researchers do not differentiate between fluid emotional states and relatively stable personality traits.

Lazarus further holds that positive psychology claims to be new and innovative although the majority of research on stress and coping theory make much of the same claims as positive psychology. The movement attempts to uplift and reinforce the positive aspects of one’s life, but everyone in life experiences stress and hardship. Coping through these events should not be looked at as adapting to failures, but should be regarded as successfully navigating stress, but the movement doesn’t hold that perspective.

The US Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Programme

The Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) programme was established in 2008 by then-Chief of Staff of the United States Army, General George W. Casey, Jr., in an effort to address the increasing rates of drug abuse, family violence, PTSD, and suicide among soldiers. The Army contracted with Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Pennsylvania to supply a program closely based on the centre’s Penn Resiliency Programme, which was designed for 10- to 14-year-old children. Although Seligman proposed starting with a small-scale pilot-test, General Casey insisted on immediately rolling out the CSF to the entire Army. Interviewed for the journal Monitor on Psychology of the American Psychological Association, Seligman said that “This is the largest study—1.1 million soldiers—psychology has ever been involved in.” According to journalist Jesse Singal, “It would become one of the largest mental-health interventions geared at a single population in the history of humanity, and possibly the most expensive.”

Some psychologists have criticized the CSF for various reasons. Nicholas J.L. Brown wrote that “The idea that techniques that have demonstrated, at best, marginal effects in reducing depressive symptoms in school-age children could also prevent the onset of a condition that is associated with some of the most extreme situations with which humans can be confronted is a remarkable one that does not seem to be backed up by empirical evidence.” Stephen Soldz of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis cited Seligman’s acknowledgment that the CSF is a gigantic study rather than a program based on proven techniques, and questioned the ethics of requiring soldiers to participate in research without informed consent. Soldz also criticised the CSF training for trying to build up-beat attitudes toward combat: “Might soldiers who have been trained to resiliently view combat as a growth opportunity be more likely to ignore or under-estimate real dangers, thereby placing themselves, their comrades, or civilians at heightened risk of harm?”

In 2021 the Chronicle of Higher Education carried a debate between Singal and Seligman about whether, with the CSF well into its second decade, there was any solid evidence of its effectiveness. Singal cited studies that, he said, failed to find any measurable benefits in such positive psychology techniques, and he criticized the Army’s own reports as methodologically unsound and lacking peer review. Seligman said that Singal had misinterpreted the studies and ignored the Army’s positive feedback from soldiers, one of whom told Seligman that “if I had had this training years ago, it would have saved my marriage.”

What is Inner Peace?

Introduction

Inner peace (or peace of mind) refers to a deliberate state of psychological or spiritual calm despite the potential presence of stressors such as the burden arising from pretending to be someone.

Refer to Ataraxia.

Background

Being “at peace” is considered by many to be healthy (homeostasis) and the opposite of being stressed or anxious, and is considered to be a state where our mind performs at an optimal level with a positive outcome. Peace of mind is thus generally associated with bliss, happiness and contentment.

Peace of mind, serenity, and calmness are descriptions of a disposition free from the effects of stress. In some cultures, inner peace is considered a state of consciousness or enlightenment that may be cultivated by various forms of training, such as breathing exercises, prayer, meditation, tai chi or yoga, for example. Many spiritual practices refer to this peace as an experience of knowing oneself.

People have difficulties embracing their inner spirituality because everyday stressors get the best of them; finding peace and happiness in the little joys of life can seem difficult, and results do not seem all that gratifying. Achieving spirituality is a step-by-step process; there are ways through which one can become more spiritual every day.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, emphasizes the importance of inner peace in the world:

The question of real, lasting world peace concerns human beings, so basic human feelings are also at its roots. Through inner peace, genuine world peace can be achieved. In this the importance of individual responsibility is quite clear; an atmosphere of peace must first be created within ourselves, then gradually expanded to include our families, our communities, and ultimately the whole planet.

Who is David Perrett?

Introduction

David Ian Perrett FBA FRSE (born 11 April 1954) is a professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where he leads the Perception Lab.

Background

The main focus in his team’s research is on face perception, including facial cues to health, effects of physiological conditions on facial appearance, and facial preferences in social settings such as trust games and mate choice. He has published over 400 peer-reviewed articles, many of which appearing in leading scientific journals such as the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B – Biological Sciences, Psychological Science, and Nature.

Perrett received the British Psychological Society President’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Knowledge in 2000, the Golden Brain Award of Minerva Foundation in 2002,[9] the Experimental Psychology Society Mid-Career prize (2008), and a British Academy Wolfson Research Professorship (2009-2012).

What is Functional Analysis (Psychology)?

Introduction

Functional analysis in behavioural psychology is the application of the laws of operant and respondent conditioning to establish the relationships between stimuli and responses.

To establish the function of operant behaviour, one typically examines the “four-term contingency”: first by identifying the motivating operations (EO or AO), then identifying the antecedent or trigger of the behaviour, identifying the behaviour itself as it has been operationalised, and identifying the consequence of the behaviour which continues to maintain it.

Functional assessment in behaviour analysis employs principles derived from the natural science of behaviour analysis to determine the “reason”, purpose, or motivation for a behaviour. The most robust form of functional assessment is functional analysis, which involves the direct manipulation, using some experimental design (e.g. a multielement design or a reversal design) of various antecedent and consequent events and measurement of their effects on the behaviour of interest; this is the only method of functional assessment that allows for demonstration of clear cause of behaviour.

Applications in Clinical Psychology

Functional analysis and consequence analysis are commonly used in certain types of psychotherapy to better understand, and in some cases change, behaviour. It is particularly common in behavioural therapies such as behavioural activation, although it is also part of Aaron Beck’s cognitive therapy. In addition, functional analysis modified into a behaviour chain analysis is often used in dialectical behaviour therapy.

There are several advantages to using functional analysis over traditional assessment methods. Firstly, behavioural observation is more reliable than traditional self-report methods. This is because observing the individual from an objective stand point in their regular environment allows the observer to observe both the antecedent and the consequence of the problem behaviour. Secondly, functional analysis is advantageous as it allows for the development of behavioural interventions, either antecedent control or consequence control, specifically designed to reduce a problem behaviour. Thirdly, functional analysis is advantageous for interventions for young children or developmentally delayed children with problem behaviours, who may not be able to answer self-report questions about the reasons for their actions.

Despite these benefits, functional analysis also has some disadvantages. The first that no standard methods for determining function have been determined and meta-analysis shows that different methodologies appear to bias results toward particular functions as well as not effective in improving outcomes. Second, Gresham and colleagues (2004) in a meta-analytic review of JABA articles found that functional assessment did not produce greater effect sizes compared to simple contingency management programmes. However, Gresham et al. combined the three types of functional assessment, of which descriptive assessment and indirect assessment have been reliably found to produce results with limited validity Third, although functional assessment has been conducted with a variety host of populations much of the current functional assessment research has been limited to children with developmental disabilities.

Professional Organisations

The Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) also has an interest group in behaviour analysis, which focuses on the use of behaviour analysis in the school setting including functional analysis.

Doctoral level behaviour analysts who are psychologists belong to the American Psychological Association’s division 25 – Behaviour analysis. APA offers a diplomate in behavioural psychology and school psychology both of which focus on the use of functional analysis in the school setting.

The World Association for Behaviour Analysis offers a certification for clinical behaviour therapy and behavioural consultation, which covers functional analysis.

The UK Society for Behaviour Analysis also provides a forum for behaviour analysts for accreditation, professional development, continuing education and networking, and serves as an advocate body in public debate on issues relating to behaviour analysis. The UK-SBA promotes the ethical and effective application of the principles of behaviour and learning to a wide range of areas including education, rehabilitation and health care, business and the community and is committed to maintaining the availability of high-quality evidence-based professional behaviour analysis practice in the UK. The society also promotes and supports the academic field of behaviour analysis with in the UK both in terms of university-based training and research, and theoretical develop.